Last week, Google announced two new ranking signals related to mobile. One has already been implemented, and takes into account app indexing when showing results to signed-in users who have apps installed on their devices.
The second signal looks at how mobile-friendly webpages are, and follows all of the guidance Google has been giving websites about mobile-friendliness over the past year or so. Interestingly, Google actually announced a date (April 21) in which this signal would go into effect, which is something the company hardly ever does.
The announcement seemed to suggest that webmasters better have their sites ready to rock and roll by that date or risk losing rankings. While it's definitely still a good idea to get your site mobile-friendly by that date, things may not be quite as pressing as the announcement made it seem.
Search Marketing Expo (SMX) West took place this week, and Barry Schwartz moderated a panel on mobile SEO, which featured Google's own Gary Illyes. According to Schwartz, Illeys indicated that the mobile-friendly ranking signal will run in real time, and will run on a page-by-page basis.
In other words, if only some of your site is mobile-friendly, the parts that aren't won't necessarily hurt the entirety of your site. Also, as soon as you make a page mobile-friendly, that will be reflected in Google's algorithm. That kind eases the burden on some sites of scrambling to up their mobile-friendliness by the April 21 date. Schwartz writes:
This mobile-friendly algorithm doesn't seem to be run like Penguin where it is site-wide, impacting the whole entire site. It also doesn't appear to run in spurts or periodically like Penguin or the page-layout algorithm. So even if you do not have the time and resources to get your whole site mobile-friendly by April 21st, you should be able to do the most important pages first and work your way through the rest as soon as you can.
Also, less importantly, Gary said they are working on a separate mobile-friendly index. He said it as if it wasn't a big deal, that someone, somewhere at Google is playing around with the idea of using a separate mobile-friendly index for mobile results. Personally, I don't see it being efficient for Google to run separate indexes. In fact, they consolidated those efforts in the past with the supplemental index a long long time ago. We will see if anything comes of the separate mobile index but I doubt we will hear much of it anytime soon.
So how do you make sure your pages are mobile-friendly? Luckily, Google offers a great deal of guidance.
For one, you should bookmark and make friends with Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool, which lets you plug in a URL and see if it's mobile-friendly, and if it's not, see what Google doesn't like about it.
If you have an Android app, you're definitely going to want to implement app indexing if you haven't yet. More on that here.
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